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Blog>Guides>When and How to Effectively Take a Mental Health Day in 2022

When and How to Effectively Take a Mental Health Day in 2022

Article index


  • Reasons to take mental health day off work

  • When to take a mental health day

  • How to ask your boss for paid time off work

  • What to do if you need a longer break

  • Taking care of yourself in the workplace


A mental health day is a stress relief break from work. This break allows you to take a sick day for legitimate reasons, such as feeling burnt out or overworked. Breaks are a great time to deal with work-related stress issues, anxiety disorders, and other psychological, mental, or emotional matters to enhance your overall well-being. You're better off asking your boss for sick time than letting your responsibilities at work get the best of you.

By resetting your mental health, you can feel refreshed, helping you be more optimistic and productive. Stress levels often rise when work demands — such as long hours — put immense pressure on your coping ability. That's why mental health issues in general are being placed under an increasingly larger magnifying glass in the corporate world.

Some causes of mental health concerns in the workplace include constant change, lack of career stability, tight deadlines, repetitive tasks, over-supervision, and conflict between colleagues. Working long hours leads to burnout, negatively affecting your ability to concentrate and handle duties satisfactorily. When you can't cope with work pressures, you're more likely to experience physical and psychological symptoms.

These tell-tale signs include:

  • Depression

  • Headaches

  • Insomnia

  • Low morale

  • Fatigue

  • Irritability

  • Anxiety

This article discusses mental health in the workplace, signs that you need some time off work, how to ask for a break, and the best way to make sure you recover. It also looks at how Joblist simplifies finding company culture jobs that minimize stress levels.

Why Should You Take a Mental Health Day off Work?

Working people are facing more stress than ever. This trend impacts all organizational levels. A 2019 study confirmed a significant increase in people whose work-life has been negatively impacted by a mental health condition — and then COVID-19 hit, and things went off the rails. In a follow-up study, researchers found that 76% of people surveyed experienced at least one condition in 2020. The figure showed an increase of 18% from the previous year (2019). What's interesting about the revelation is that no one is immune to mental health professional challenges in the workplace — not even the most successful business executives.

There's no denying that mental well-being plays a big part in the work-life balance of all professionals. You can become more productive when free from depressive disorders and physical health difficulties, as weakened mental health can lower your immune system. You're less likely to take sick leave when your mood is positive and relaxed.

Don't underestimate the importance of taking a mental health day off work when you're feeling down. Sometimes just spending the day at home with loved ones makes a big difference in your mental state. A bit of self-care away from the workplace can do wonders for your long-term success.

The benefits are huge once you decide to take a mental health day off work. Below, we talk about what you can expect:

  • Return to work feeling de-stressed and re-energized

  • Find it easier to become productive

  • Gain a reset on your perspective

  • Get some proper rest (sleep or just relax outdoors)

  • Reduce the risk of depression

  • Increased feelings of joy and happiness

How to Know When to Take a Mental Health Day

When you feel down and unable to concentrate, it’s time to consider asking your superior for sick time. Several other signs indicate the need to step away from stressors so you can decompress. This stress management approach can do wonders for your mental and emotional state.

Learn more about the tell-tale signs that you need some vacation time:

  • Mood changes. Consider taking a break if you’re overly anxious and easily set off. These symptoms often make it harder to focus on your work, undermining productivity.

  • Feeling exhausted. Work pressures can leave you feeling worn out and unable to sleep. If you don’t do anything about the condition, it can only worsen.

  • Recurring sickness. If you can’t shake a cold, flu, or nagging headache, there’s a fair chance that you’re taking the brunt of burnout. Slowing things down will most likely give your body and mind a needed boost.

  • Feeling disconnected. Hectic work days can make you feel disconnected from the world around you. Spending a long time in front of a computer is particularly stressful if you don’t have breaks.

  • Overly pessimistic. Work-related stress can make you feel hopeless and frustrated. The good thing is that you can kick the pessimism by breaking the routine and asking your boss for time off.

How to Ask for a Day Off for Mental Health

Depending on your work and the company culture, you can drown emotionally, mentally, and physically without necessary time off. So it's best if you speak with your employer about taking time away from work. There’s no need to feel awkward or guilty about asking for a break — self-care is necessary to overall work performance. So, what’s the best way to approach your boss about the mental health day?

  • Avoid overstating your case. It’s super important to avoid saying more than you need to. In many cases, you can get what you want without explaining in detail your reasons for sick time. Some personal issues can lead to an awkward conversation.

  • Don’t procrastinate. Talk to your boss as soon as possible. Doing so allows your superior to organize a replacement if needed. Also, you avoid feeling anxious about how the request will turn out. Once you get the green light, you’ll have more time to rest and recharge your batteries.

  • Be direct. It’s unwise to beat around the bush when asking for a break. Get to the point to avoid misunderstandings or wasting your employer’s time with empty talk.

Now, let’s look at examples of what you can say to your employer.

Try keeping it short and sweet by saying, “I’m here to ask for a day off. I need a mental health day.” If you’re uncomfortable mentioning mental health, start with, “I don’t feel well today,” or “I have a lot going on personally and need a day to sort things out.” If you feel comfortable, talk to your supervisor about the factors at work that contribute to this feeling of burnout to put in place preventative measures for the future.

What to Do on a Mental Health Day

What you do on a mental health day depends on your specific situation. For instance, you may want to nap because you’re suffering from burnout. You might also want to do something fun yet relaxing, like socializing.

Now, let’s look at the mental health day activities that can help you recover.

If You Need Rest

For a restful day off, consider the following:

  • Read a book. Curling up with a book can lower stress levels by 68%, helping you recover faster. It’s a practical way to release any tension in your muscles while slowing your heart rate.

  • Take a nap. Napping is an unbeatable way to relax and recuperate from the mental, emotional, and physical pressures experienced in the workplace.

  • Get together with family and friends. Spending time with people close to you can have a therapeutic effect.

  • Take a bath. A relaxing bath is a great way to clear your mind and rest your body.

  • Visit the spa. Pampering yourself at the spa provides a surefire way to relax and disconnect from the rigors of the work environment.

If You Need to Have Some Fun

Fun-filled activities to improve your mood include:

  • Listen to music. Studies show music helps you relax and reduces stress.

  • Socialize. Having fun with your friends and family enables you to decompress and reset.

  • Hit the dance floor. Cope with mental health conditions by dancing to release tension, express yourself, and feel happier.

  • Binge-watch TV shows or movies. Movies and television shows can go a long way toward improving your mental and emotional well-being.

  • Play sports. Participating in sport is one way to release hormones called endorphins that boost your energy and make you feel good.

If You Need to Make Some Changes

Read on to discover the best activities for reflection or making changes.

  • Meditate. Just a few minutes of mediation can restore calmness while presenting an opportunity to reflect on your circumstances.

  • Express yourself through writing. There's evidence that expressive writing eases stress and depression. You can write down changes you want to make or reflect on your innermost thoughts.

  • Volunteer. Contributing to a good cause positively affects your state of mind, allowing reflection on what's important to you.

  • Take pictures. Photography is another activity that makes it easier to change your outlook on life while reducing stress.

  • Embark on nature walks. Exposure to nature soothes your mind, lessening stress and anxiety. It also gives you time to reflect.

What to Do When You Need a Longer Break

Feeling burnout can be distressing, making it hard to do your job. Your mental and physical health can also take a knock. It’s easy to feel irritable, unable to concentrate, and lacking motivation.

Let’s see what you can do to get back on track.

  • Pay attention to your feelings

  • Build meaningful relationships with your co-workers

  • Find a hobby

  • Don’t bring your work home

  • Boost motivation by celebrating quick wins

  • Discuss difficulties or mental illness with superiors

  • Check in with yourself by practicing mindfulness

  • Ask for help from behavioral health experts

  • Exercise regularly

Take Care of Your Mental Health in the Workplace

Since you now know how important a mental health day is, the next step is to find a job that doesn't overly stress you. It's a good thing Joblist lets you customize your job search experience. The platform has a quiz page to help you find personalized job listings that match your interests and needs.

Interested in a low-stress career? Check out job opportunities on Joblist today.

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